May 17, 2023

News Release: Manhattan School of Music Announces the 2023 Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Jazz Legend Herbie Hancock among Five Recipients of the Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at Tomorrow’s Manhattan School of Music Commencement Ceremony

Thursday, May 18, 1:00 PM
The Riverside Church, NYC

NEW YORK, May 17, 2023 – Manhattan School of Music (MSM) will hold its annual Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 18, 2023, 1 PM, at The Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive). This year, in addition to degrees being awarded to graduating students from the School’s graduate and undergraduate programs, MSM President James Gandre will confer the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, honoris causa, on jazz legend Herbie Hancock (’62); President and CEO of Detroit Opera Wayne S. Brown; world-renowned violinist Bing Wang (MM ’91); and long-time MSM trustees Marcia Clay Hamilton and Edward Lowenthal. Mr. Hancock studied at MSM in the early 1960s, and Ms. Wang graduated from the School with her Master of Music in 1991.

The President’s Medal for Distinguished Service, an annual award, will be awarded to three individuals from the MSM Community: Director of Library Services Peter Caleb; renowned pianist and piano faculty member Jeffrey Cohen; and renowned violinist and violin faculty member Lucie Robert.

Melissa Wegner (MM ’05), an MSM alumna and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Company’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and Laffont Competition, will deliver the commencement address. Jaydon T. Beleford, a classical tenor graduating from the MSM Vocal Arts division with his Bachelor of Music, will be the Student Speaker.



Now in the seventh decade of his professional life, Herbie Hancock remains where he has always been: at the forefront of world culture, technology, business, and music. Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet he helped pioneer a groundbreaking sound in jazz, while also developing new approaches on his own recordings. His work in the ’70s, with record-breaking albums such as Headhunters, combined electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. Rockit and Future Shock marked Hancock’s foray into electronic dance sounds, while he continued to work in an acoustic setting with the V.S.O.P. Quintet. The recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, Hancock has received 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters and two for the globally collaborative CD The Imagine Project. He received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score. Hancock serves as Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and as Institute Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. He was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011 and a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2013. His memoir, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, was published by Viking in 2014. Hancock is currently in the studio at work on a new album.


Wayne S. Brown has been President and CEO of Detroit Opera (previously Michigan Opera Theatre) since 2014. He has deep roots in Detroit and the state of Michigan. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he received his Bachelor of Music degree with a major in voice and a minor in business. Brown began his professional career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, first as an administrative assistant and subsequently as Assistant Manager, overseeing sales, community outreach, and the orchestra’s first Upper Peninsula tour. In 1979, he was instrumental in bringing about the first Classical Roots Concert in Detroit, a now celebrated initiative. Brown is also the former Executive Director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts and of the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky, where he was responsible for launching and exceeding a $10 million endowment campaign, establishing a regional touring program, and producing two international music festivals. A former vice chairman of Opera America and the League of American Orchestras, he was a founding member of the Magic in Music Advisory Committee for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has served on advisory boards for the Mellon and Ford Foundations and as a member of the American Arts Alliance Board. Brown also served as Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts, where he managed grants for music and opera projects and directed the NEA Opera Honors and Jazz Masters Fellowships. He was also producer of music programs for the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games. Brown is the 2021 recipient of the Mariam C. Noland Award for Executive Leadership.


Violinist Bing Wang enjoys a multifaceted career as an orchestral leader, chamber musician, and educator. A longtime member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which she joined in 1994 as Associate Concertmaster, she was previously Principal Second Violin with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She has been Guest Concertmaster of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra since 2009, appearing in televised concerts conducted by Jaap van Zweden, Alan Gilbert, and Riccardo Muti. Wang has won critical praise for her many performances as soloist with the LA Philharmonic. She appears annually as concertmaster and soloist at the Hollywood Bowl under the baton of legendary composer John Williams, performing solos from his signature film scores. She has also been a featured soloist with the Oregon Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Eugene Symphony, Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, and American Youth Symphony. As a chamber musician, Wang has collaborated with Lang Lang, Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Born in China, Bing Wang attended the Middle School of the Shanghai Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, and Manhattan School of Music, under the tutelage of Berl Senofsky and Glenn Dicterow. A devoted educator, she is an Adjunct Professor at the USC Thornton School of Music, where her students have won positions with major orchestras. She also serves on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School and of the Tianjin Juilliard School.


Marcia Clay Hamilton’s career spans nearly four decades and includes positions of leadership in both corporate and small companies, community organizations, and entrepreneurial enterprises, including Lyrics Unlimited, which she founded. An ardent believer in the power of music to enrich lives and enhance learning, she serves as a Trustee of Manhattan School of Music and member of the School’s Executive Committee. A former Board member of the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra and founding member of the Greenwich Music Festival, she also serves as an advisor to the Greenwich Young Artists Philharmonic and Greenwich Pen Women, a branch of the Washington D.C.-based National League of American Pen Women, a group of professional women writers, artists, and musicians. An advocate of making music part of the core curriculum at all grade levels, she and her husband Don have supported this initiative at the leading-edge Gateway School in New York City and in both the Greenwich and Stamford public school systems in Connecticut. Marcia received her BA in English Literature and Urban Studies from Wheaton College and an MBA from the London Business School. Introduced to MSM through her daughter Alexandra (BM ’08), Marcia joined the Board of Trustees in 2010.


For more than 40 years, Ed Lowenthal has held leadership roles in real estate finance, acquisition, and development in both public and private entities. He founded Wellsford Strategic Partners, a private investment firm; Wellsford Residential Property Trust, a New York Stock Exchange listed multifamily real-estate investment trust; and Wellsford Real Properties, an American Stock Exchange listed real-estate merchant banking company. He served as Director of REIS, a real-estate information and analytics provider, until his retirement in 2012, and until 2022 was Director of Omega Healthcare Investors, a real-estate investment trust that provides financing and capital solutions to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. He was Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of American Campus Communities, the nation’s largest developer, owner, and manager of high-quality student housing communities. A lifelong lover of music, especially jazz, Ed has served as a trustee of Manhattan School of Music since 2002 and chairs the Executive and Finance Committees. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Parlance Chamber Concerts. He earned a BA from Case Western Reserve University and co-chaired the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Visiting Committee. He earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal.


Founded as a community music school by Janet Daniels Schenck in 1918, today MSM is recognized for its more than 1,000 superbly talented undergraduate and graduate students who come from more than 50 countries and nearly all 50 states; its innovative curricula and world-renowned artist-teacher faculty that includes musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the Met Orchestra, and the top ranks of the jazz and Broadway communities; and a distinguished community of accomplished, award-winning alumni working at the highest levels of the musical, educational, cultural, and professional worlds.

The School is dedicated to the personal, artistic, and intellectual development of aspiring musicians, from its Precollege students through those pursuing doctoral studies. Offering classical, jazz, and musical theatre training, MSM grants a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. True to MSM’s origins as a music school for children, the Precollege program continues to offer superior music instruction to 475 young musicians between the ages of 5 and 18. The School also serves some 2,000 New York City schoolchildren through its Arts-in-Education Program, and another 2,000 students through its critically acclaimed Distance Learning Program.


Manhattan School of Music acknowledges that we gather on the traditional land of the Lenape and Wappinger past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.

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